How I Nearly Lost Another $14.99, Or That Deep Sense We’re Lost

A little while ago I wrote about how some Christian books come with the hype of changing everything, of unlocking the secret we’ve all overlooked for thousands of years, of uncovering a hidden message in the gospels. It’s a tired old marketing technique that’s still very powerful. I recently saw a video made for Scot McKnight’s new book (which borrows more than a few tricks from the Nooma play book) where he says we have a weak gospel and that aren’t following the gospel Jesus himself initiated.

Of course the video is ultimately an advertisement – you’re curious what the real gospel is, and if you buy the book by golly you’ll get the real gospel, the original one, the one we’ve lost!

I’m stunned at how for the first couple of minutes I totally fall for it. I wanted the book until 3 minutes in when I realized what was going on. This stuff works!

To me, this actually says less about marketing, but more about this sense we all have that something isn’t quite right. Maybe we all want the books that offer to solve all the mysteries and reveal secret truths because we sense we don’t have it all quite yet. I think we sense we are missing the original gospel, and I think we know, even if its deep down yet subconsciously, that how we’re doing things isn’t quite right.

Do I think Scot’s book will fix it? Oh silly goose, I think very little fix it. He’s probably got some good hints and insights. But I don’t know. But I do think the church as a whole is beginning to wonder if we’re losing it a bit.

Do you fall for those marketing tricks too? Do you also get the sense we’re missing something and out of line with the “original gospel?” What do you think it is we are missing?

(video only provided for reference and example purposes, this isn’t an endorsement of any kind of the book).

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15 Responses to How I Nearly Lost Another $14.99, Or That Deep Sense We’re Lost

  1. Bernard Shuford says:

    All this modern day debating about “the gospel” intrigues me and bothers me simultaneously. But the words “preach the gospel” mean INCREDIBLY different things to different people.

    And I honestly don’t know exactly what it means any more. I’m not sure Scot McKnight or anyone else does, either, even though I AM sure that they know more about it than I do.

    There’s so many screwed up things in my head that the very idea of trying to help someone understand the gospel, salvation, or even religion terrifies me to a certain extent. You sure won’t catch me on a street corner “preaching the gospel” and claiming to know what that means or anything else of that nature.

    So, yeah, these are valid things to write books about, and part of the reason this stuff is successful as marketing is that these are deep questions we all hold. The Bible is a book of mystery that is proclaimed by many to be “plain and simple”. It’s not. It’s only “simple” if you leave out the complicated, tricky, and “hard” parts. Most of the people who proclaim it to be “plain and simple” would be very negative to the idea of leaving ANY part out the Bible “out”, yet they have to do just that in order to maintain simplicity.

    So, we’re all hypocrites in some fashion and we all “preach” a gospel that suits our own tastes for interpretation and truth.

    • I get annoyed sometimes when people call the Bible plain and simple. It’s plain and simple if you’re trying to force things out of it – but if you just read it for what it is its a wild ride and you often don’t quite know where you are.

  2. David says:

    Do you fall for those marketing tricks too? Only if it is something I need. 😉 I actually believe that if most folks would sit down and read the New Testament once through, a lot of this crap would clear up… I recommend reading Acts and John once a year. Then, go read all the books you want.

    Do you also get the sense we’re missing something and out of line with the “original gospel?” Over all, yes! The gospel is not just that Jesus saves us for eternity; it is that after we are converted we are supposed to use our gifts to love others. But religious folks have all sorts of rules about gifts so they can control them – you know, character, membership, covering and all that sort of junk. When something doesn’t fit their paradigm, they make a doctrine against it. Then we have the intellectuals who read that Bible as if it is encyclopedia instead of spiritually discerning it, they intellectually weave a tapestry of “scholarship” ho ummm… boring and not God.

    No wonder we miss the simple gospel of making disciples of all nations, casting out demons, healing the sick and the like.

    What do you think it is we are missing? Mostly we are missing a personal experience with the Holy Spirit. How do I know? Most Christians hear from God so rarely that it seems as if He doesn’t exist at all. I find that truly sad.

    • you definitely nailed a great criticism of intellectualism (though they place themselves so high up they think they’re above such a critique), and I really think you nailed what it is we are missing. There are plenty of books on how to get back to God, but I think many of us never met him in the first place – we just met his PR team.

  3. Carolyn says:

    Um, no. I don’t buy the latest thing in books. I didn’t do the forty-day Purpose Driven Life thing. And I don’t believe that Joel Osteen has a secret that I need and can get out of his book. I don’t even know who this Scott guy is. Are we missing things? Yes. What is it? Dying to self is my best guess. I expect it is a problem all over the world, but especially, ESPECIALLY here in the US. That’s all I got.

    • I think that was a central part of Jesus’ life, and it’s no surprise we try to avoid that idea. I totally fell for the purpose life thing, but I was like 19 so give me a break. Now Osteen – never even once slightly fell for that!

  4. Amy says:

    I totally fall for marketing tricks, but only for YA books or literary fiction with pretty covers, and I usually get a review copy. 🙂 But if I don’t…watch out!

  5. Larry Hughes says:

    When I first came back into the fold, I read all the marketing ploys and developed a hefty library of books that pormised the secrets of salvation. But yet all those books pointed back to the bible even if they had the writer’s input. Yep the bible is the secret. Read it wisely.

    I also have dialog daily with God, Jesus, or the Holy spirit if only thinking about Him or them. This is where the questions I have get answered either through the “voices” or incidents in daily life. My sins of the past that I forgot are also brought up.

    I would have to consider direct contact with God is certainly more productive than all the books put together about the secrets of faith. Of course there will be days of only one sided contact but God is a busy God but He eventually gets to you when it counts.

    Here is an example. AS most know I am going through a health issue that requires I take daily IV injections of antibiotics followed by a flushing of saline solution to prevent blood clots forming in my pick tubes. Wednesday evening as usual, I have to inject a vial of saline solution in the pick lines to keep the lines clear. This night one of the lines was clogged and did not take the solution. Blood was forming in the line. Calling the hospital about the issue did not get a good answer. They said it would be ok till the next antibiotic injection. That didn’t sound right.

    I then heard a voice as clear as talking to the wife saying go to the emergency room now!
    I followed the instructions. What was found was a blood clot in the pick line that the nurse did not clean the morning before during the daily antibiotic injection. The Dr. in the ER ordered a solution that they use to break up blood clots in veins for heart patients and it did break up the clot. Had I not went to the ER, the Dr. said I stood a good chance of a heart attack or death had I not come in.

    Another case of God talking to you when it counts.

    • Carolyn says:

      Larry, I don’t know you. I didn’t know you had all these special health needs. What I want to say, though, is that I am so glad that you listened when you heard His voice. That is something I am trying to learn how to do, and I appreciate you telling us about it. And I’m glad that you didn’t have a heart attack or die. 🙂

    • David says:

      Great new, Larry. I would say that if Christians are not hearing the voice of God, they don’t understand the term “personal relationship.” Try ignoring any one that you are close to and the relationship falls apart.

      • Larry Hughes says:

        Carolyn and David:

        I am glad I didn’t either due to carelessness Carolyn.
        Your statement is so true David.

        Learning to hear God’s voice cannot be done in my experiences. Just listening for the still quiet voices is the best way to experience His grace. It will come when you least expect it or when you finish praying. Some times nothing at all will happen that you would expect but a sign or incident will take place that is supernatural or startling. One will know when God speaks to you. It is entirely different than any thing you have ever experienced in your life.
        I have had many experiences over the last few years that can only come from one source. (God). I have known of people that I have never met before and instantly am told what they are or do. I have prayed for others and they receive comfort and sloace ( Possibly healing). I have felt prophesy being reveald to me but I cannot be sure for I am a reluctant person to believe I have any of these gifts given by God’s grace.

        Either way, I am greatful for His grace in looking over this sinful body that He is making new again. The best way to hear God’s voice is to pray daily in earnest and think of His love for all mankind.

      • powerful story Larry. A sense of relief rushed over me as I read that you got what your body needed.

  6. theoldadam says:

    The gospel is just never enough for people, so the books continue to flourish.

    Here is the gospel:

    Your sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake.

    That’s it? That’s it.

    You are DECLARED RIGHTEOUS for Jesus’ sake (He wants to declare you righteous in spite of everything that you do to the contrary).

    But since our Old Man/Woman just refuses to believe that fact, the books fly off the shelf with the latest ‘how-to’ Christianity advice.

    Here’s mine (for free):

    Relax. And enjoy the freedom that Christ has won for you on the cross. And live.

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